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Low-cost vehicle plan with Bajaj on track: Nissan


Nissan today scotched rumours that its alliance with Bajaj Auto for developing an ultra low-cost vehicle was on a shaky ground, saying it is still in talks with the Indian auto major for the project.

"We have been holding discussions...The next round of the announcement will be a joint announcement," Nissan Motor Company Vice-President Corporate (India, Africa & Middle East) Giles Normand told reporters during the launch of the Japanese auto major's mide-sized sedan 'Sunny' here.

Speculation had been rife that the Nissan-Renault-Bajaj joint venture was not working well as the two overseas JV partners are unhappy with Bajaj over the pace of project.

Asked about the time of the joint announcement, Normand declined to give any specific date, saying "We will let you know at the right time".

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor India Managing Director Kiminobu Tokuyama said his company was studying the prospects of launching a small car in the fast-growing Indian market on its own as well.

"We, at Nissan, are committed to offer a good product to any segment...So we are now studying the project of launching a small car.. But it is too premature to say when we will launch the car," Kiminobu said.

The Renault-Nissan alliance signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2008 with Bajaj Auto to develop an ultra low-cost vehicle for India and other emerging markets, and had planned to launch it in 2012.

The design, manufacturing and sourcing was to be done by Bajaj and Renault-Nissan would handle marketing in India and overseas, according to the agreement.

The Renault-Nissan alliance is investing Rs 4,500 crore to set up a plant in Chennai, which will have an annual capacity of 4 lakh units.